Monday, March 2, 2015

The Fragile Beasts, Skin Laceration Repair and Cost

If you can't see me...
This is Faith, a 1 year old Borzoi who loves to play with her brother, which is the best way for dogs to get the exercise they need and learn the skills of socialization and companionship, save for the few accidental mishaps that can happen. She loves her family, but isn't so keen on the vets office. I am always amazed at how shy some pets can be in the office when they are social butterflies at home.

My approach to everything I do in the practice is all about measuring risk, keeping long term gains in mind, and preserving a bond of trust between all parties involved. Little mishaps, bumps, bruises, and wounds happen. The key is to know which need which kind of help. For my clients it requires that we all speak the same language and none of us loose our wits at the sight of blood.

This is the wound that Faith got two days ago. A linear laceration to the side of her rib cage that is about 4 inches long and has opened up to be about 3 inches wide. Like many lacerations I see she probably was running through the brush having a grand old time and ran into a thorn, a broken branch, or even a piece of wire fencing. One little minor skin wound over two days has opened up and become a bigger wound that is now being licked and oozing.

I am on a little personal crusade to help people understand their pets medical needs. A way to empower people through educating. It has become the purpose of this blog and the mission of Pawbly.

A wound needs to be classified and understood before we decide what to do about it. A clean superficial wound can often be managed at home while a deep or penetrating wound needs to be explored by a surgeon and managed in the vet hospital.

Every wound needs to be cleaned and stopped from bleeding. This is paramount. Direct pressure and soapy water are all you need. Nothing fancier than that, no alcohol, no hydrogen peroxide, no ointments.

When Faith arrived we cleaned and shaved her wound. Hair gets into wounds where it irritates them and stirs in bacteria. I know that clipping always make them look worse but it helps them heal faster. And, most importantly, it keeps your eyes on that wound. Your eyes are my eyes when you aren't in the vet office.

Faith's wound is only skin deep, but the skin is getting pulled away from the laceration and the gap between the two sides of the wound is growing. The movement of the skin and the area of the body are all working against the bodies ability to create a network of collagen and fibroblasts to form the architecture of the supportive healing process. For this reason we decided to appose and fix the edges and effectively stabilize and close the wound.

At the clinic for Faith's case we used a local anesthetic block on the skin edges and placed 3 sutures. A good holder, a firm rub, and a few minutes later and we had a closed laceration.

We also dressed Faith in a body suit to keep her wound protected, (we use Medical Pet Shirts). But, the downside is that every wound needs to be carefully examined daily. Don't let out of sight out of mind be a detriment to your pets healing.

I see more lacerations in the sighthounds than any other breed by about a million fold. They have very fragile skin that tears easily. I recommend that these dogs wear protective clothing out playing and that the family be prepared for little mishaps.

These pups need protective body armor!

Faith's laceration repair cost was as follows;
Examination $50
Antibiotic, injectable $60
Injectable NSAID $35
Lidocaine gel, local anesthetic block $15
Wound repair $30
Medical Pet Shirt $28

If you have a pet question you can find helpful answers from the community at You can find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

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